After reading a post over at Steve Munro’s website about the last Peter Witt cars and the TTC operating a ‘belt line’ service with those cars, I thought “What would it be to bring such a service with the TTC’s last PCC streetcars #4500 and #4549?” Well, let’s discuss it.
The belt line would essentially operate as a circle around the downtown core and could see #4500 and #4549 running either clockwise or counter clockwise. One could even go counterclockwise while the other is operating in a clockwise direction.
The suggested route I have is to operate in a circle using King Street in the south, Bathurst Street in the west, College Street/Carlton Street in the north, and Church Street in the east.
I would recommend that one streetcar runs in each direction. Thus one streetcar would operate in a clockwise manner heading west along King Street to Bathurst Street, turning right onto Bathurst. The streetcar would then head north to College Street where it would turn right heading east to Church Street. At Church the streetcar would turn south and continue south on Church until King where it would turn right and then continue heading west and beginning the loop again.
The other streetcar could head east along King Street, north along Church Street, west along Carlton/College Street, and then south along Bathurst Street.
All the tracks are in place for this service, as are the turns required. The streetcars could be serviced overnight at Roncesvalles or Russell and easily enter/exit service.
If the streetcars were stored at Roncesvalles, they would head east along King Street, and either turn north onto Bathurst or continue east and enter into service. At the end of the day, instead of turning north onto Bathurst (or east onto King), the streetcars would simply head west along King Street and then enter right into Roncesvalles.
If the streetcars are stored at Russell, entering and leaving service would be easy. They would depart Russell heading west along Queen Street, and then south and west along King Street entering service when they departed Russell – allowing people going downtown to conveniently use the streetcar while it heads to the belt line. When the cars were ready to be returned to Russell, they would only need to head east King Street for a straight run along King and Queen and into Russell, with the streetcar operating in the clockwise direction simply turning left onto King Street instead of right. (The streetcar cannot turn left onto Queen from Church Street, so the turn would have to be made on King, which is not a big deal as that is where it would normally turn anyway.)
The belt line I have described could also be operated in a continuous loop in only one direction with both streetcars either operating clockwise or counter clockwise. The main advantage of this is that the streetcars could be spread out to provide a slightly better headway.
There are two main advantages of operating the cars in opposing directions: one they would not end up running within minutes of each other – something that is very likely on Toronto’s congested roads – and secondly, they would thus provide a better increase in service over a portion of three TTC streetcar routes (the 504 King car, the 511 Bathurst car, and the 506 Carlton car.) Not everyone is going to travel over a long portion of a route, so the belt line cars would supplement local service along these routes.
The second advantage listed above – providing better bi-directional service on three routes is the main reason I would suggest operating the streetcars in opposite directions around the belt line.
Let’s hope the TTC considers this option one day.